God’s Promise Is Greater Than The Law

Many years ago, God made a covenant of blessing to Abraham. The Lord promised him that he would be the father of nations. That his descendants would be as numerous as the stars! However, at the time, Abraham and his wife Sarah were both well advanced in age so it seemed humanly impossible for them to still have a child. What’s more, Sarah was barren. The fulfilment of the promise was completely up to God! But Abraham believed and God declared him righteous because of his faith
(Genesis 15:6).

In the same way, God in His amazing grace grants us salvation when we completely put our faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do in our own capacity to earn it. God requires perfect righteousness that we would never be able to live up to. But Jesus, when he became man, lived a sinless life. He died on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sins. Then when He rose again on the third day, He conquered sin and death, not only proving that He was the Messiah but also fulfilling, in our behalf, what was needed in order to receive salvation. And if we place our faith in Jesus, God gives us His life and righteousness and forgives us of every sin. This is the Good News! We receive God’s promise of salvation simply by believing in His Son, and not by righteousness through the Law. Once we accept His salvation, it is complete and everlasting.

However, some men called “Judaisers” came and said that God’s work is not enough. According to them, aside from placing our faith in Christ, we must also follow the law to the letter in order to gain salvation. This kind of teaching is called “legalism” which in effect says that the Law is greater than God’s promise. Paul wrote to the Galatians to correct this.

Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

The Pre-eminence of the Promise. Galatians 3:15-16 says, “Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is Christ.” Part of God’s covenant with Abraham was the coming of Christ Jesus, the Savior of mankind!

The Law was like a legal contract but God’s covenant with Abraham was as a promise. God gave the Law to His people through Moses but made the covenant with Abraham. He was asleep and covered in animal blood (read Genesis 15) when God made His promise, which was also symbolic of Jesus shedding His blood on the cross.

Paul said, if a man-made contract is strictly followed, how much more God’s covenant with Abraham? The Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant already ratified by God so as to nullify the promise (Gal. 3:17). God cannot take back His promise of salvation by grace through faith just because of the Law. “For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise” (Gal 3:18). Because God is faithful in keeping His promises, salvation remains a free gift. God’s promise is unconditional. Absolutely nothing can cancel it!

The Purpose of the Law. “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made” (Gal 3:19).

The Law is like a mirror, showing us that we have a sin problem. Like a flashlight in the dark, it shows us the way but does not take out the darkness. Like a plumb line, it can only show us the correct alignment to God’s standards and nothing else. “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God?” Paul asks and answers: “No!” The Law is given to us to show that we are all guilty of not living up to God’s perfect standards. By doing so, it guides us to understand and appreciate the grace of God. It doesn’t give the solution to our sin problem. God has an entirely different reason for giving us the Law. It shows us His holiness and our sinfulness, and our need for a Savior.

The Law was also given to protect us from lawlessness. Like a guardian or tutor, the Law guides us on how we must live. Praise God for His wisdom! The Law was added because of transgressions until the seed–that is, Christ– would come (Gal 3:19). Paul writes, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” The Law was meant to show us that we are sinners, thatwe cannot make it on our own and lead us to Christ who fulfilled the promise of God.

Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly with His sinless life. When we place our faith in Him, God credits Jesus’ righteousness to us. Our salvation in Christ is complete. Praise God!

The Position of the Believer. Not only does God save us from eternal damnation, He also gives us a new identity. Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” God adopts us as His hildren. And as part of God’s family, we should live according to the standards of God in character, in words, in everything (Ephesians 1:5). (Note: Baptism is the public declaration of one’s allegiance to Christ and not a requirement for salvation.)

We now belong to God. We were given the right to become His children (John 1:12). We are assured of eternal life with God (1 John 5:13). All believers become one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). He gives us a new name and a new home. Our faith in Jesus as our Savior brings us into the family of God. God’s gospel welcomes, loves, and values everyone equally regardless of race, social status, or gender.

God’s Promise is indeed greater than the Law. Salvation is not about achieving; it’s all about believing. Because of His promise of salvation, we have peace, joy, and hope through Jesus. We are free to live lives that glorify God! As God’s children let us live according to the new identity that God has given us.

If you, on the other hand, are asking yourself if you are you saved, know that salvation is available to you because of Jesus. In whom do you place your faith for salvation: in Christ or in fulfilling the Law? This is the most important decision you will make in your life. We pray that you choose Christ Jesus, who loves you and gave His life for you (Galatians 2:20).

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